Wayback Machine: Wants His Cake and Yours Too…
Thirty nine years ago today, Bryant “Big Country” Reeves was brought into the world.
Twenty two years later, the Gans, Oklahoma native turned the Vancouver basketball world on it’s ass.
Selected as the sixth overall pick in the 1995 NBA Draft and the first ever draft pick by the expansion Vancouver Grizzlies, GM Stu Jackson felt that he had a cornerstone that the team could build around.
Starting in 63 of his first 77 games in the NBA, Reeves put up satisfactory numbers during his first year in the league with just over 13 points per game and a touch under 7.5 rebounds in almost 32 minutes of floor time. These stats were good enough to place Big Country on the All-Rookie Second Team.
For the next two years, Reeves finished second on the team in scoring, hitting for just over 16 points a night on average and roughly 8 rebounds. While these numbers weren’t exactly “all-world”, they certainly gave fans some hope that maybe along with Shareef Abdur-Rahim, good things were just down the road despite the team’s woeful record.
Following his second year in the league, the Grizzlies front office felt the need to reward Reeves’ effort and also show Abdur-Rahim, along with further incoming rookies and free agents that they were willing to spend money. The team signed the dotted line on a six year, $61.8 million contract.
From that point forward, one might have considered charging Reeves with grand larceny as “Big Country” quickly resembled more of his nickname than he did of a professional basketball player. With a combination of injuries and increased health issues, Reeves started to eat his way out of favour with the coaching staff and the fans.
With a large amount of money invested in their “big man”, the Grizzlies even sent trainer Robert Hackett down to Gans to spend time with Reeves during the offseason to make sure that he was eating and training properly.
At 7’0″, and 270lbs when he was in his “prime”, Reeves started to close in on the 300lbs mark.
Unfortunately for everyone involved with the Vancouver franchise, while Reeves weight increased, his playing production decreased.
Although he managed to bounce back from a career low 25 games played in the 98/99 season to play 69 and 75 games in his final two years, his playing time dropped to a career low 25 minutes a game.
While many feel that Reeves was a giant mistake from the start, one only has to look back and see the list of other draftees in the 1995 draft, which may go down as one of the weakest in NBA history, save for four of the top five picks (Antonio McDyess @ 2nd, Jerry Stackhouse @ 3rd, Rasheed Wallace @ 4th and Kevin Garnett @ 5th).
So here’s to you Bryant “Big Country” Reeves, for on your 39th birthday, I wish you eternal happiness on your multi-acreage ranch in Gans, Oklahoma, where you sit with your loving family and enjoy the riches that playing basketball in Vancouver brought you.